Spring[?] Workshops on the way.

Spring is around the corner? March is days away but winter is digging in her heels. Nevertheless, your fearless Wellness Exercise Specialist is making travel plans, and will be visiting several MUS campuses during March and April. As we plan and populate workshops, check out the calendar on the Events and Media tab to see what’s being added, and be on the lookout for announcements from your campus.

That being said, I wanted to go ahead and put out some early opportunities to register, especially for all my Missoula friends. I’ll be spending some time next week with you, and we’re offering four workshops, which can be found in the PDF link below:

For Bozeman folks, we have an Intro to Mindfulness Workshop the week of Wellcheck, hosted by one of our friends at MSU Counseling and Psychological Services. For more information, and to register, click here.

Again, more info will be coming soon regarding live workshops this spring across the state! For now, be safe and stay warm!


Wellchat Episode XVII: The Commuter Episode

Episode 17: After catching up since the previous Wellchat, Neal and Cristin share several interviews from MSU Bike to Work Day in June, and discuss how commuters of all types can arrive at work safe and happy. Recorded 7/10/18

The Montana Moves & Meals Wellchat is available on Itunes podcasts! Subscribe and take us with you for a walk, run, or drive!

World Records & Personal Bests

Although I’ve enjoyed having my life back this week, I’ve had a bit of Olympic withdrawal. I have to admit, I’m an Olympic junkie, and this year, I got my 4-year-old son hooked too. His favorites were Ledecky and Bolt. The kid knows how to pick a winner I guess.

I like the Olympics for many reasons—the sport, the spectacle, the competition—but I also find it inspiring to watch human beings that are absolutely in peak physical condition and laser-focused on their game. So much work has gone into what they do, that it’s hard not to share in the celebration of their triumphs and the heartbreak of when things fall short. It’s the familiar thrill of victory and agony of defeat.

During the 17-day Olympic Games, around 11,000 athletes competed, and there were 65 Olympic and 19 World Records broken or tied. This should hopefully put into a little perspective how hard it is to break a world record. On the other hand, I really enjoy seeing athletes who were excited just to set personal bests. Maybe they wouldn’t even make their event final, but they gave their best at the Olympics. That should feel good, regardless of where they finished overall. While World Records boggle my mind, I can still relate to the feeling of a personal best. All of us can.

While the chances are slim for us non-Olympic types to set a World Record, it always feels good to set a personal best, and that’s something that’s achievable with a little goal-setting and effort. Many of you have done just that during this month’s Montana Moves challenge through our MUS Wellness Incentive program, and, just like Olympians, we find you to be inspiring! Some of you shared your personal bests by posting on the site, and we wanted to list a few of those bests. Way to go MUS!

  • I have worked out every day for the last 30 days! Love to keep it going!
  • Most steps in a day
  • This month was a focus on personal best for stress. I don’t deal well with stress but I am focusing on meditation (another great challenge topic on here!), breathing and focusing on solving the problems I can and not worrying about those I cannot. This has helped decrease stress a lot! So much that I’ve decreased body pain and I feel a lot healthier! I also sleep better at night when not worrying so much!
  • On track with my workout plan, I have gone to the gym two weeks in a row, 4 days a week. This is my personal best.
  • Completed an entire week of alternative transportation to work!
  • This week I biked six out of seven days, commuting to work and running errands, totaling just over 60 miles for the week!
  • I set a record high step count this week and for the first time ranked first on my friends list!
  • Most days hitting over 10,000 steps and standing 1/2 a day at work.
  • Swam 2k without break
  • Hiked to the top of Lone Peak – a goal of mine for many years!
  • Yoga 6 days out of 7!
  • 1st place in my age group 5K today. Not my fastest time ever (great for hills and heat and altitude though) but never finished 1st.

As you can see from the list, there are many ways to set a Personal Best. Congrats to all of you who’ve hit one this month! If you haven’t, there’s still two more weekends to go for this challenge, plenty of time! But it doesn’t end this month. My wish for all of you is for you to always continue to strive for your best at every age and station of life!


Team Representing MUS takes Gold in Community Wellness Challenge!

A ten-person team representing MUS Employee Benefits took the top spot in the BCBSMT Community Wellness Challenge! The Challenge, sponsored by Blue Cross and Blue Shield Montana, was a 10-week activity based competition in which teams used Fitbits to compile active minutes with an opportunity to win money for the local charity of their choice.

The MUS team chose the Myrna Loy Center in Helena as the recipient of the charitable contribution.

“This is exactly the intent of the Community Wellness Challenge. Not only is it a way to promote an active and healthy lifestyle, it’s a means to give back to our communities and make a real difference.”

  • BCBSMT President Mike Frank

Team MUS racked up 95,424 active minutes over the course of the challenge, and accepted the winning check at the 2015 Governor’s Cup in Helena. The team was made up of Mary Lachenbruch, Leah Tietz, Jessie Bliss, Ruth Anne Hansen, Connie Welsh, Jane Liedle, Laurie Tobol, Sandy Matule, Elaine Gingery and Chelsi Dupler.

It was an awesome 10 week challenge and we are so excited that we pulled out the win as the St. Peter’s Hospital team was on our tails.

  • Mary Lachenbruch, MUS Benefits

Congrats Team MUS!

Read Full Article Here

MUS Walkers1
Team MUS accepting their charitable donation at the Governor’s Cup in Helena. Looking good, team!

MUS walkers2
Jane Liedle, Connie Welsh, and Mary Lachenbruch present $5000 to the Myrna Loy Center in Helena.

One Heck of a Commute!

Last week, Dan Dobyns, Workforce Navigator from Helena College, visited with us about his commute to work. Dan led all Montana Riders last year as part of the National Bike Challenge, logging 7711 miles last summer. Click on the video link below to hear Dan’s story!

Interview with Dan Dobyns from Montana University Sys. Wellness on Vimeo.

The National Bike Challenge allows you to log your bike miles all summer long, and you don’t have to ride 40 miles a day to participate. Participants receive 20 points each day they ride, plus a point per mile, so it’s all about riding consistently!

To join, go to nationalbikechallenge.org, and join one of our MUS Wellness teams (EAST or WEST), then start tracking your miles. It’s a tight race thus far, as our teams are 1-2 in Montana!


More Shared Success

As your 2015 Goals continue rolling in as part of the January Challenge of the Month, let’s continue to look back on the shared success of many of you in 2014. Much of this success came largely in part having a vision, setting appropriate goals, and modifying/implementing behaviors to support the goals and vision. See if you can pick out those themes in these short stories, while finding inspiration in the success of your peers!

  • Between June 2013 and 2014 I made the goal of running over 1000 miles during the year and culminating the end of that goal with my first ever half-marathon. I ended up getting in 1100 miles for the year and completing my half marathon in less than 2 hours, which for a first time is an awesome accomplishment. Not only was I able to run the 13 miles without stopping by the end of my training, but I also changed my diet and started incorporating much more healthy and nutritionally full meals in order to help me gain strength and speed. Running also helped to boost my attitude, giving me a way to vent any stress that I was feeling.  K.S.  –Bozeman
  • I’m still a work in progress. I sometimes get lazy about exercise, and often give in to cravings for junk food.  But generally speaking, I feel better than I have in years.  I love it when I’m feeling healthy, and if I’m not doing so well, I need to remind myself about how good that feeling is.  Others have seen a change in me, and I think maybe seeing that change has encouraged them to try to live a healthier lifestyle.  J.M. –Missoula
  • We use smaller dinner plates. I’ve been working for some time on portion control and weight management, and while it’s a tiny trick, it’s been effective for not only me but also my husband. His overactive metabolism finally caught up with him, and his eating habits have had to change in order to maintain his weight. It’s a small change, but I hope that it will be a starting place for me. Certainly it’s something that I will be able to keep up with – the new plates are here to stay. J.P. –Great Falls
  • I started making gym time a priority. 3-4 times I week I ran, biked, or lifted weights. I signed myself up for the Run to the Pub, even though I’d never run that far in my life. I stopped drinking soda and tried to cut out sugar. A year later, I weigh about 20 pounds less than I did…I’m eating healthier, running regularly (and I hate it far less), and have started using free weights. I feel good.  I had to set all new fitness goals, because I made all my former ones! A.R. –Bozeman
  • I was motivated to take action after the fall Wellcheck last year. I’ve been meeting with [Take Control] since November 2013.  My cholesterol was elevated.  [Since then] I’ve made healthier eating choices, have lost some weight, and have been implementing fish oil into my daily routine.  I also bought a treadmill so when the weather’s not good for exercise outside I can still get some exercise on my treadmill!  Love it!  The changes I’ve made in my life have also integrated over to my husband.  Since I started buying healthier foods he also began “getting into” what I was doing.  He began looking for new healthy recipes for us to try.  It’s been fun!  K.V. –Kalispell  
  • The road to understanding what true wellness means was long but I feel that I am finally in a place where I put my physical and mental health first, sometimes at the expense of getting errands or work done, but for the best personally. I regularly run, bike, practice yoga, eat healthful meals and no longer smoke, visit fast food chains or drink soda. I am very satisfied with where I am today and this program helps keep my honest with myself!  K.L. –Bozeman

World Cup Fitness

…players run for more than seven miles per game, [and] burn more than 5,000 calories.  Coach Masa Sakihana

I love the World Cup. Every 4 years I let myself get caught up with all the passion, drama, and athletic artistry that happens when the world’s biggest game plays on its biggest stage. I began playing soccer when I was 6 years old. I think it was one of the first things that my parents made me do, and I can still remember not being super-excited about the decision. Games were played on Saturday mornings, which totally interrupted my cartoon watching marathon. After some time, I did learn to enjoy the game, and I played organized soccer into my middle teens.  As an adult I have from time-to-time taken up the sport in the occasional adult rec league. It’s a still a fun game, and a very demanding one. I really credit soccer for developing a physical skill-set and fitness base as a youth that I’ve been able to carry with me and enjoy as an adult.

So if you’re watching the World Cup (and Team USA today!), have an appreciation of some of the world’s finest and fittest athletes as you watch. Here’s some info about your typical world-class soccer player.

Soccer players rely heavily on both their aerobic and anaerobic energy systems. One study found that players on average will complete 19 high intensity sprints throughout a game occurring once every 4-5 minutes.  They must maintain this ability to sprint, leap, and quickly change direction over two 45-minute halves (with no time-outs)!

According to U.S. Men’s National Team Fitness Coach Masa Sakihana, players run for more than seven miles per game, burn more than 5,000 calories, and train for 90-120 minutes on the field in just under a dozen sessions per week. Coaches design lifting programs that focus on core strength, stability, flexibility and mobility.

  • American midfielder Graham Zusi popped out an impressive VO2 max of 71 ml/kg/min during a physical endurance test in training.  This rivals elite endurance athletes such as marathon runners and Tour de France cyclists.
  • American midfielder Jermaine Jones has been clocked running 20mph during the World Cup.
  • Portugal star Christian Renaldo is reported to have a 31 inch vertical leap.

All off this explosive power and aerobic power is impressive, but it is even more impressive that it is all displayed while chasing, manipulating, and reacting to a ball and 21 other players.  Enjoy the Cup!

If you didn’t see Robin Van Persie’s flying header in the Netherlands opening World Cup match, you must. You Tube that.




Sharing the Wealth (of New Recipes!)

One day last week, my husband called me at work to ask what was for dinner and to see if I needed him to stop at the store for any ingredients on his way home. I am a big advocate of meal planning; I even have a workshop called Meal Planning Made Easy! However, last week was a week when I had not heeded my own advice so I had no meal plan, and as I was starting to suggest one of our typical stand-by recipes, I suddenly had a fantastic idea—I referred to my stack of recently submitted Montana Meals January Challenge Logs (Try New Things!) and picked out a recipe that received a 5-star rating and rave reviews: Southwestern Chopped Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing . I agree with you, Peggy L., from MSU Bozeman, that this recipe deserves 5-stars and has great flavor!

Rather than keep all of these recipes to myself, I thought I would share a few online 5-star favorites, according to your January Challenge logs:

And for leftovers from the last recipe:

I get hungry just looking at all these delicious sounding recipes and can’t wait to try more of them myself. Many of the recipes above also include heart healthy foods from the February Challenge list, so you can meet this month’s challenge at the same time as trying more new meals!

Some of you were ambitious enough to create your own recipes for the January challenge. Way to go! I plan on sharing one or two of those in an upcoming blog post, so stay tuned, and if you have an original recipe that you’d like me to share with our fellow readers, please send it my way.

Happy Eating and Cooking!



Be the star of your story.

Everyone loves a good story.  It’s why we go to the movies and read books.  It’s why we love to tell stories and to hear someone “spin a good yarn.”  We gravitate toward stories that inspire us; stories that make us feel good.  And often, we find our own narratives quite interesting–if we didn’t, I don’t think Facebook would be quite as popular as it is.

This month we challenged you to share your 2013 Wellness Story with us, no matter how small or big.  We’ve been receiving some great stories so far that we can’t wait to share with you next month.  Stories about quitting smoking, recovering from surgeries, beating cancer, riding a bicycle 100 miles, changing health habits, losing weight, lowering cholesterol, training for a road race, and even getting a new puppy.

We want more!  Send your 2013 Wellness success stories (big or small!) to wellness@montana.edu or fax to 406-994-2391 by Monday, December 2nd and be a part of a great story!

Until then, have a Happy and Healthy Thanksgiving from Montana Moves and Montana Meals!

michele winner

As always, when you participate in our challenges, you could win stuff! Our monthly winners in October were Michele Cusack (above) from MSU Bozeman and Jerry Girard from UM Western in Dillon. Michele won a Yoga mat and bag from Montana Moves (and an opportunity to be photographed with a guy rocking a mustache), and Jerry won a pairing knife and cutting board from Montana Meals. Congrats Winners!

Montana Moves: A winning story!

MM Winner
Our Montana Moves First Quarter prize winner Angela B. showing off her new Polar Heart Rate watch along with coworker and Wellness Champion Julie M.

Montana Moves started the year with a simple challenge: Send in your fitness/health goals for 2013. Many people from around the state responded to the challenge, among them, Angela Bangs from MSU. Angela’s goal for 2013 was to lose 30 pounds, and she also added the specifics of how she wanted to achieve her goal: by increasing her fruits & vegetable intake to 5 servings a day, and by being physically active for at least 150 minutes per week. Then Angela took one more step to challenge herself and make her goals a little more urgent: she signed up for a 10-mile run in Chapel Hill, NC, where she went to school.

April turned out to be a great month for Angela. First, she won our Montana Moves Quarterly drawing for her participation in our Challenges of the Month, receiving a Polar Heart Rate monitor and watch. Then she completed one of her 2013 goals by finishing the 10-miler in Chapel Hill! Here’s what Angela had to say about the race:

The race was fantastic – clear skies, cooler temperatures, and lower elevation made the day a great one.  I made my goal time and am now considering doing a half marathon sometime in the fall.

MUS Wellness would like to congratulate Angela!  Her’s is an inspirational success story about the power of setting goals and implementing a plan to reach them!  Best of luck to Angela as she strives for even more successes in 2013!

Angela NC
MSU-AHEC Coordinator and UNC Alumni Angela proudly sporting her Chapel Hill 10-Miler medal. Well done Angela!

Be sure to check out our Challenge of the Month each and every month from Montana Moves and Montana Meals. You can be a winner too! And if you missed our January Challenge, it’s not too late, there’s still plenty of 2013 left to set and accomplish some awesome goals. Just check out our COTM tab at the top of the page, and play along!